Arte Povera: Italian Influences, British Responses

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

20 September – 17 December 2017

£3.25 with National Art Pass (standard entry £6.50)

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The exhibition reveals the effect of the radical Italian art movement on artists in Britain.

Literally meaning 'poor art', the term Arte Povera was coined by the Italian art critic and curator Germano Celant in 1967. By this he did not mean to infer a lack of money; Celant was instead referring to the group's use of throwaway materials such as soil, rags and twigs. In using these materials – as opposed to oil, bronze or marble, as was the tradition at the time – they aimed to challenge the values of the commercial contemporary gallery system.

Celant was behind a pioneering series of texts and exhibitions that established Arte Povera in Turin, Milan, Genoa and Rome during a period when Italy was seized by economic instability. Among the artists who became associated with the movement were Piero Gilardi, Jannis Kounellis, Mario and Marisa Merz, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini and Gilberto Zorio. Their practice spanned painting and sculpting, to taking photographs and creating performances and installations.

This exhibition highlights the influence of Arte Povera on the work of British artists. Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Celant's first landmark exhibition, Im Spazio (The Space of Thoughts), it brings together pieces by the movement’s key artists with that of figures such as Eric Bainbridge, Ceal Floyer, Anya Gallaccio, Lucy Skaer and Gavin Turk.

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